Dog-Friendly Suffolk

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions
Poppy making friends?

Poppy at Easton Park Farm

Suffolk is thought of as Constable country with visitors flocking to Dedham Vale to see where the artist painted some of his most famous works. However the county has lots to offer.

The old town of Ipswich is pedestrianised with several medieval Tudor buildings with their distinctive markings. A plaque on a 15th century house marks a nearby spot where Cardinal/Archbishop Thomas Wolsey lived as a child. As well as the more well-known high street shops there are lots of individually owned shops, One in particular caught my eye, The House in Town which sold unusual and quirky items. I landed up buying an enormous bucket-size dog food tin. Salthouse Harbour Hotel with its floor to ceiling windows looks out over Ipswich Marina. Although dogs are not allowed in the restaurant, if you have one with you, as I did, they will serve your meal in the stylish lobby where we were able to watch motor and sailing boats bobbing about on the water.

Woodbridge in Suffolk


There are times when I visit somewhere that has a very welcoming feeling. Woodbridge is just such a place. Having parked my car on a street by a large open space that I later found to be called Fen Meadow, I walked up the street and was greeted with ‘good morning’ by the people I passed. Facing onto the Market Square The King’s Head, an Adnams’ pub and originally a merchant’s house dates back to the fifteenth century. One of the walls still has the original wattle and daub of a Tudor building. In the square’s centre is the Shire Hall with an area with tables and chairs for people to enjoy a drink or meal outdoors. The Hall used to be a courthouse strategically placed by the market place with an ornate drinking well.

Definitely a dog-friendly place as everywhere, outside shops were bowls of water. Walking down the hill, we found a lovely shopping street. Although I recognised a few high street names, the majority are still individually owned. Continuing past the shops the River Deben beckoned with its white, weather boarded Tide Mill built in the 1790s, which has been restored, and is now the last working mill of its kind in the country.

Sutton Hoo treasures

some of the treasures from Sutton Hoo

Near Woodbridge, Sutton Hoo, a National Trust property has mounds that date back to the Anglo-Saxon period when people came to this country from Germany, Denmark, and Holland. The museum, which  introduces the site, has a video that sets the scene giving historical background to how and why the mounds are there. The discovery of treasures in the mounds makes it one of the richest surviving burial places in Europe. Animals are not allowed in the museum but kind dog-friendly volunteers at reception were more than happy to look after Poppy and she even had another dog to play with.

In times gone by, important people were often buried with precious items to portray their status, under mounds. In one of the existing seven mounds excavated, the outline of a 27m ship was uncovered filled with treasures. It is thought to have been the grave of Raedwald, King of the East Angles, who died around AD 625. A display has a reconstruction of the burial ship with King Raedwald lying in it with his helmet, and belongings. Children are able to dress up in clothes of the era.  The mounds themselves are roped off but there are tours when you can actually walk on them. An airy cafe has a terrace where dogs are allowed, as well as acres of grounds to walk them. The Edwardian house at Sutton Hoo, Tranmer House has been decorated to create the atmosphere of the thirties. In its workshop, a radio plays music from the era as well as a recording of Winston Churchill’s announcement that England was at war.


castle at Framlingham

Framlingham Castle

Framlingham, the 12th century castle, promoted by English Heritage as one of the only remaining castles in Britain with its walls intact was briefly owned by Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry V111. She was at the castle when she received news that she had been proclaimed England’s first ruling queen. The wall walk, once used by sentries to move around the castle allows visitors to walk around the circumference. Dogs are welcome although the steps are quite steep, and well-worn probably original. I carried Poppy up which, for me, was quite a feat but worth it for the wonderful views of the mere and surrounding countryside. There is an audio-visual guide with two different explanations, one for adults and the other for children. Within the walls, the poorhouse is the only building remaining. The castle was home to the earls and dukes of Norfolk, and some of their tombs can be visited in the nearby church.

Shawcross Winery

at Shawcross vineyard

Not far from the castle, I passed Shawsgate Vineyard and, of course, had to stop.  As well as walking around the estate, seven different grape varieties are grown on their 13 acres, there is a shop where I was able to taste a variety of their wines, mainly whites, for free. Les Jarrett the owner is planning to run guided tours from October. As well as selling wines, it is also possible to buy vine plants, the variety dependant on what he has over-bought(closed on Sunday).

The highlight of our trip has to be Easton Farm Park set in 35 acres; and filled with animals, a lot of which can be petted. Although a family destination, it is primarily for children of all ages. Poppy was allowed to accompany me on a lead. Apart from llamas, the animals are ones that anyone would expect to find on a farm – pigs, sheep, cattle, poultry and horses. There are also various play areas geared to children of different ages. Every day there is a schedule of events such as allowing a child to hug a bunny, and take a pony and cart ride. Their gift shop sells some unusual gifts. I bought Poppy what looked like an egg but was in fact a bouncy ball. The real perk was, however, also being able to buy freshly laid eggs.

For  more about Suffolk, click here.


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